How much does a studio cost?
This is a frequent question we get asked, and while we have done studios that range from €20,000 up to €5,000,000, each depends upon many factors.
Firstly, a common problem we have is sometimes getting the customer to tell us how much they have to spend. It is often something that is guarded as strongly as matters of national security, yet it is the absolute first thing we need to know if we are going to deliver the best result for the customer.
There is some form of "law" in business negotiations that you should never expose your budget limit to the supplier, for fear the supplier will simply bleed that budget dry. In the case of starting a studio project, with a designer, which is a complex bespoke product, this is an utterly ridiculous position to take which often wastes everybody's time.
A studio can be designed and built to an almost infinite degree of quality, price, time, and goal, and the only way to get the absolute best result for the customer is to put all the facts on the design table at the beginning. One would not walk into a Mercedes showroom and say, “I want a car with four doors” and not tell the salesperson what price range one was looking at. They have everything from Smart cars to Maybachs, we would get laughed out of the showroom.
We have had customers who have spent months refusing to expose their budgets talking about all kinds of complex designs, and spending weeks on discussions, to only in the end, be wanting a €200,000 project, but they only had a €50,000 budget. Everything up to that point was a total and complete waste of everybody’s time and expectations.
As professional expert consultants and designers our job is to get the best technical result for the budget in the circumstances, there is no room in the costs of this kind of project for getting meaningful discounts without reducing what is delivered, or room for cutting profit margins, or negotiating a €100,000 studio for a €50,000 bargain price, it simply does not work that way in this business. We’re not building or designing high profit margin mass produced products like houses, cars, or aeroplanes. There is (sadly for us) no big fat profit that can be negotiated down to “half price” by playing “poker” with the budgets (we really wish there was, and we could, but the market does not support such a thing) . Every project we do is immensely cost effective, tailored exactly to the customer’s needs. The only way to cut a price is to reduce what is delivered.
So what is the cost then?
There are many factors that affect the price.
Firstly; The available budget. That is an absolute ceiling and dictates what can or cannot be achieved.
Secondly; The space. This can massively affect the cost and the limitations of what can be done. We can’t put 16 tons of isolation on a 4 ton capacity floor, the design has to fit the limitations of the space. Similarly, bringing all the materials up 6 flights of stairs is going to massively eat into a tight budget, as is being in a location where only a few materials can be loaded in every day.
Thirdly; The location. If the studio is next door to a library or hospital then there is going to need to be a massive investment in sound isolation, sometimes as much as 50% of the overall budget will go on sound isolation alone before we begin to build the studio itself.
Fourthly; Technical requirements. A studio is often a function of the operational requirements of the end user. Many technical requirements have cost implications. If we need to have giant doors to let large items in, that will cost a lot more. If we need to build a control room for a 96-channel vintage SSL and 4 x 24 track Studer tape machines, that will have a big cost implication.
Finally; The customer’s aesthetic requirements. A studio can be both a pleasure to work in, or a horrible place to be all depending upon the choice of finishing materials or colours, but this choice can also have gigantic effects on the budget. A floor can cost anything from €1,000 to above €20,000 depending upon what visual appearance is required. It is not beyond the realms of reality for a standard control room to have a €100,000 difference in final cost based on decorative choices alone. We have had studios with over €70,000 spent on chairs alone in one room. This final aspect is really a case of “how much do you want to spend?” not a case of “How much will it cost?”
The actual answer to How much will it cost is all related to the above issues.
Principally we usually reply, “how much do you want to spend?” (which is often “as little as possible”), “What do you want to do?” and “Where do you want to do it?” From there we can then evaluate whether or not we can do anything, and if we can, what we can do to achieve the best result.
As a function of these things the final result is often the best compromise. Very rarely is a result not a compromise. Only with an open field to build upon, no neighbours, and adequate budget is the end result free of compromises.
We have sometimes been told “Oh yes, but it’s easy – A studio will cost €xxx per square meter”. Sadly, such a comment shows total ignorance of what a professional studio is. If we were building classrooms that get falsely called “a studio” then maybe we could make such a formula. If we always built the same type of studio in the same type of building for the same purpose with the same equipment, with the same number of doors and windows, then maybe, just maybe if all the stars are aligned, we could have some cubic meter cost formula. Sadly this never happens, every price is situation specific, and some details can cause vast variations in cost.
This said, don't be afraid to ask us. You may be very surprised what we can deliver for what cost. To us, a €20,000 project is just as interesting and challenging as a €20,000,000 project. We often learn more with the challenges of the little jobs.
Julius Newell Acoustic Engineering (Unip)Lda
VAT PT 514142928
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